Fujinami pulls out of Belgrade Worlds with foot injury
Wednesday, September 7, 2022 - 20:01 By Ken Marantz
TOKYO (Sept. 7)--Reigning world champion and top seed Akari FUJINAMI (JPN) will not be defending her title at the upcoming World Championships in Belgrade after suffering a left foot injury, Japan national women's team coach Ryo KANEHAMA said on Wednesday.
According to the Japan Wrestling Federation website, Kanehama said in an online press conference that the 18-year-old Fujinami, who was to defend her 53kg title in Belgrade, suffered ligament damage to the instep of her left foot while sparring during the first day of a national team training camp in late August.
Press reports said that Fujinami, who was on crutches after the injury, is able to put enough weight on the foot to walk, but it has not healed sufficiently to wrestle in matches. She is expected to need eight weeks to fully recover.
Japan will not send a replacement in the weight class.
"From this point, there are many important competitions ahead," Kanehama was quoted as saying. "To keep from making [the injury] worse, we made this decision today."
Kanehama was mainly referring to the All-Japan Championships in December, which will be the starting point for the qualifying process for the 2024 Paris Olympics. It is there Fujinami is expected to clash for the first time with Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Mayu SHIDOCHI (formerly MUKAIDA), who is entered at 55kg in Belgrade.
Fujinami, who currently has a 103-match winning streak that dates back to her junior high school days in 2017, won the world title in Oslo last year in her first senior international tournament, winning all four of her matches by technical fall without conceding a point.